Founders, Interviews, Marketing & Comms

Balancing the Grind With Emma-Jane Granleese, Founder & Managing Partner at History Will Be Kind

September 4, 2019

Emma-Jane Granleese is the Founder & Managing Partner at History Will Be Kind, a creative communications consultancy, operating at the cross roads of PR, social media and digital communications.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Over two decades, I’ve worked my way up through the ranks. Running a Global (MD, Weber Shandwick/Golin Harris Australia), then pivoting to a start-up, launching History Will Be Kind when I had two kids under two years.

We just celebrated our 5th birthday, and in that period, the team and I have taken on the established players, shifted the industry focus and helped redefine what it means to be a PR agency in the new communications landscape.

The success has been rapid, winning AdNews Agency of the Year in year two, consistently producing market-leading work, and more recently being named Boutique Agency of the Year Asia-Pacific, by the PR Awards Asia.

I have enjoyed the freedom that running an independent allows, creating brave work and leading nimble product and service innovation.

2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

We kick off the day with our daily check-in – a 15-minute stand-up, committing to our colleagues on our key deliverables. This helps me prioritise and time box activity.

We then move co-ordination meetings and into flow time to ensure we kick goals early in the day, allowing the afternoon to be built around client meetings and reviews.

Today it’s a road-mapping session for foundation client ICC Sydney, aligning highly complex stakeholder and audience ecosystems, with storytelling platforms for the next burst of activity.

We are lucky to work in an area surrounded by some of the best cafés/restaurants Sydney has to offer, so for lunch, I’m off to a new ramen bar with a colleague.

I am a passionate believer in shared goal setting and embedding an entrepreneurial spirit to drive growth.

To wrap the day, we have a full team beers and ideas session to identify passion areas when it comes to industry sectors, supporting our new business efforts and getting all levels of the organisation involved.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

For me personally, flexibility is key. It’s central to both my work and family life. If I’m on kid pick up, I work hours to support this. I also aim to work Friday’s from home so I can manage school hours. As a working mother, it’s non-negotiable.

What I’ve found as a business leader and mentor, is that it can be more challenging for more junior members in the team to embrace flexible working options.

For this reason, we’ve recently launched a new people-first approach around core hours, allowing two flexible hours daily – start early, leave early, start late, work lunch – the choice is yours. The aim – to ensure every member of the team is empowered to take advantage of flexible working daily.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

As a business, we’ve invested in full team Agile Agency training to pivot our way of working both internally and externally, towards team empowerment and a shared communication platform which supports workload management.

This has driven a fundamental organisation shift, supercharging ground-up collaboration from the moment a brief comes in, to daily stand-ups that embrace full transparency of expectations and deliverables.

Alongside embracing an agile approach, I get ahead every day by starting early, aiming to be at my desk an hour before others arrive in the office. I find this period of the day really productive and block my diary to ensure I have time to actually do work.

Every afternoon my last task at work is capturing my must-dos for the next day. I email myself the list and am ready to move first thing.

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5) What does work life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me it means being able to create a life where I continue to learn, surround myself with inspiring and good people, challenge myself and have fun. Both in a professional and personal setting.

It’s a constant balancing act and something I am mindful off, every day.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

My friends tell me I’m incredibly organised, my aim is to get the most out every day and I love a challenge. A big list maker, I thrive working at pace and moving through tasks. Decision making is also key when it comes to success and balance.

Make a decision, be confident and move forward, rather than procrastinate. You can always pivot and change direction if you need to. This is a fundamental strategy to stop work seeping into personal time.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

I am an audible and podcast addict, listening to as much audio as I can, every day. Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History is a favourite – looking at moments in history and reshaping the narrative. Adam Grant’s Work Life – a great series and tongue and cheek take on work life. And Invisibilia – fascinating stories about the invisible forces that shape us.

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Run/exercise in the morning!

It is always worth it, helps me clear my head, map my day, energise myself and grab 45 minutes of solo time. The coffee on the way home helps as well.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Say no to things. Not something I’m particularly good at, but I’m working on.

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